Emerging Issues

New Report: Emerging Trends and Tracking Disruption in the Triangle

The 21st century is a time of accelerating change that is disrupting local communities and the lives of community members. Consider the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic: who in autumn 2019 anticipated that, a few months later, communities would have to shift to remote operations literally overnight, weather an instant economic crisis, support mass testing and vaccinations, help businesses and residents disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and more? 

The profound effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on local governments and the lives and livelihoods of their constituents highlight the need for a more flexible, strategic, and proactive approach that accounts for the disruptive impacts of change.


Interconnected Circles Indicating Sixteen Drivers of Change
Drivers of Change Analyzed in the Triangle Trends Report

Our new report, Triangle Trends: Tracking Disruption, produced through a partnership with Green Heron Planning's Ben Hitchings and former APA Research Director David Rouse, aims to provide guidance and answers to the question, "how can we operationalize this approach in the work of local governments?"

The report organizes its findings across four interconnected categories of change - social, technological, economic, and environmental - and sixteen unique drivers of change.

Each driver of change is outlined in a two-page brief that includes:

  • the driver of change and its societal implications
  • specific considerations for the TJCOG region
  • potential short-term, mid-term, and long-term responses, meant to be implemented simultaneously and sequentially 
  • key statistics and resources

Read the Report


Steps Local Governments Can Take to Prepare for the Future
  1. Read the Triangle Trends Report
  2. Track the Issues - Develop a "tracking disruption" working group at the local or regional level to gather data and monitor trends.
  3. Identify Your Priorities - Each community will have shared and unique priorities. Issues prioritization workshops offer a chance to determine what resources need to be dedicated to emerging trends.
  4. Make a Plan - Draft a “Community Readiness Plan” to prioritize actions to increase organizational and community resiliency and prepare for change.
  5. Take Action - Implement your plan by piloting projects and other measures to improve the ability of your community to respond decisively to disruptive shocks.


Other Resources

Strength in Numbers: 2021-2026 TJCOG Region's Plan for Economic Resilience and Prosperity

ReGENERATION: A Manifesto for America's Next Leaders by Rebecca Ryan

2021 Regional Summit on Emerging Issues: Session Recordings and PowerPoint Presentations